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The Mobile Future

March 15, 2010 6:30:50.748

Tim Bray has moved to Google, and has some thoughts on the Android/iPhone competition:

The iPhone vision of the mobile Internet's future omits controversy, sex, and freedom, but includes strict limits on who can know what and who can say what. It's a sterile Disney-fied walled garden surrounded by sharp-toothed lawyers. The people who create the apps serve at the landlord's pleasure and fear his anger.
I hate it.

While I like the idea of wide open competition better than I like the idea of a walled garden, people seem to be choosing walled gardens in droves - Apple products and Facebook being the prime examples. A lot of people think this will be a replay of the rise of Windows, where the open platform (in the sense that anyone can write for it) will win out.

I'm not so sure. In that earlier game, the primary users skewed towards the technical. Now, the user base is broader; it's not just geeks. Apple brings tremendous ease of use and predictability to the party, while Google brings the rough edges and openness. Geeks love the latter; everyone else loves the former.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Apple's more closed play win, for the simple reason that it's easy, and the mainstream market isn't interested in tinkering or rough edges. We'll see how that plays out.

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posted by James Robertson

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